Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"...But I Don't Feel That Way

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  At least that’s what the popular Christmas song tells me.  The lyrics of this Christmas classic go on to tell of ‘kids jingle belling’ and ‘everyone telling you be of good cheer’. “It’s the hap-happiest season of all.”

Can I be honest?  Bah-hum-bug.  I can hear you all now… “What a scrooge!”  Trust me, I feel like a scrooge.  But let me explain.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.  We used to gather with my entire extended family at my aunt and uncle’s place on the lake.  The time spent there would be filled with ice skating, and cooking, and talking, and eating (so. much. eating.), and card games until the early hours of the morning.  We would come home from church and eat meatballs, the cousins would all put on our matching pajamas from Grandma, and everyone would pile around the big Christmas tree while we opened presents, always in order from youngest to oldest, one by one until all had been opened.  Some of my most favorite memories of my childhood are tied to those activities.

But it’s been awhile since we had a Christmas like that.  It’s not a bad thing necessarily, it’s just different now.  Family members have moved far away, we’ve lost a precious aunt and grandma isn’t here anymore.  The cousins have grown up, some in college, some married, and some having kids of their own. 

The thing is, I thought I’d be apart of the group “having kids of their own” this year.  A year ago today was our first and only frozen embryo transfer.  I can recall that day with crystal clear precision.  How I felt when I woke up that morning, what I ate for breakfast at the diner we went to, anxiously waiting in the procedure room, taking one last picture with Joe as ‘just the two of us’, driving home but making sure we stopped by McDonalds first for some salty french fries (infertility superstition hocus-pocus), and the 3 days of bed rest that followed.

The Christmas season is hard for infertiles.  It’s a time of conflicting emotions because everyone seems to be filled with holiday cheer and you know you should be too, but you just. can’t.   It’s the little things.  You’re at a holiday party and someone starts flipping through pictures on their phone of when they took their kids to see Santa last week and little Tommy cried the entire time.  Or you receive the Christmas cards from people you don’t really talk to and it’s their kids’ faces plastered all over the front of it.  Or when you gather for Christmas and you’re the only one without kids running around. 

Christmas is a definitive marker of another year gone by.  Another year of hope that has passed and it becomes easier to believe that every Christmas will be like this…childless.  Looking back I wish we would not have done our transfer so incredibly close to Christmas.  This year it seems to be consuming me, the reminders of what was happening a year ago.  Full of so much hope and excitement only to be completely crushed 4 days after Christmas.  Those hopes just like a Christmas tree that a few days earlier was pretty and shiny and brought such joy and now lays on the curb stripped of its’ lights and cheery exterior.

By no means am I saying that Christmas celebrations shouldn’t happen because those struggling with infertility and loss are sad.  Please do not take it that way.  But maybe this can be a reminder that the holidays are hard for some people, and that’s ok.  Some will be celebrating Christmas this year without a loved one for the first time.  Some are missing someone they lost years ago.  Some have suffered great loss this past year, some had high hopes that this Christmas would be different and it’s just not.  Some have suffered a miscarriage or pregnancy loss and the thought of celebrating anything at all seems unthinkable.  Allow these people the grace to grieve.  Use this holiday season as the opportunity to show God’s love to those grieving in a very real way.  The holidays are tough…be the one to remind her that she is tougher.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Small Steps Lead to Big Goals

The day we announced to you all that we are adopting was National Adoption Day.  It was part coincidence and part planned.  I had been working on the Birdie Beloved website for awhile and wanted to get it out as soon as possible so people could shop for Christmas.  Everyone buys Christmas gifts and I can’t be the only one who is a sucker for a handmade personalized one.  I thought it would be the perfect jumpstart our fundraising needs.
         I’d be lying if I said the financial aspect of adoption doesn’t stress me out to the max.  The thought of having to save potentially over half of our annual income gives me the nervous sweats and makes the room start to spin. 
         Domestic private adoptions typically range from $32,000-$50,000. (There are factors and situations that can cause it to be below or above that range. We know this. read: foster care) If you read my blog post about ‘Things Not to Say to People Struggling with Infertility’ you may remember one of them was “Why don’t you just adopt?”.  Adoption isn’t cheap ya’ll. This adoption will cost us well over double what our IVF treatments did.  The financial aspect of adoption is enough to keep most people from adopting.  No more than 2% of Americans have adopted a child even though over a third of the population has considered it. 
         I don’t share this information to say “Look at us! Look at the money we are spending!”.  I worry often about what people think since we asked for everyone’s help just over a year ago.  Trust me, that is not lost on us.  I worry people will think we’re begging or that we should just figure it out on our own.  I’ve heard more than once the thoughts of those who believe if a couple can’t afford adoption, then they can’t afford to care for the child and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to have children at all.  That’s about enough to make my head explode…
         I share it because I want people to understand that adoption is amazing, but it’s a huge decision for so many different reasons.  I share it because I want friends and family to understand that if we aren’t able to go on trips with you, or buy big presents, or go out to dinner with you, or if we have to pick and choose which of your children’s fundraisers we are able to support.  It’s not because we are trying to be rude or selfish. 
I share because we are trying and wanting and longing to bring a child into our family so we can go on a family trip with your family, so our child can get super excited to give their best friend that big birthday present they’ve been saving their allowance for.  I share so one day we can go out to dinner and probably be that family whose kids make a mess all over the floor and have a meltdown in the middle of the restaurant because a rogue piece of lettuce touched their french fry.  And gosh darn it I want to send my kids after you to buy cookie dough, and Christmas trees, and frozen pizza and whatever the next ButterBraid fad will be so they can go on the youth group trip with your kiddos.
I share it because I believe it takes a village to raise a child, we just need our village a little sooner or longer than some. 

Our big goal is just that…big.  To make things more manageable (calm my stress levels) our first goal is $4000.  This will allow us to submit our application and officially contract with the agency we have chosen to help.

We would love for you to visit our site
There will be new items showing up in the next week or so, keep your eyes open for those!  Have a custom idea in mind? Perfect!  Send us a message, email, or contact us through the website to see if we can help you out. 

Everything you do to help us, no matter how big or how small, plays a significant role in helping to #BringHomeBirdie .  You are literally helping to change a life and we think you’re pretty awesome for that.  We can’t wait to tell Birdie about you!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Maybe Next Year

The sunrise this morning marked the close of another year.  You had high hopes that this year, this day would be different.  You wished on every star that this morning you would be awoken by a small kick from the little one growing inside you.  You would get up and your husband would have breakfast waiting on the table.  You would find the flowers and the card he picked out late last night because he’s never had to do this before but he wanted to make sure this first one was special. 
You would get ready for church, having to wear that cute dress you’ve been saving for the day you’d finally have a bump to show off.  The pastor would speak about the infamous mothers in the Bible…Sarah, Rebekah, Mary.  Children would hand out flowers to all the mothers as the congregation left the sanctuary, and for the first time, you get one. 
Your husband would drive the two (three) of you over to a family members house for lunch.  People would rub your belly and gush over your pregnancy glow, making bets on ‘blue’ or ‘pink’ and lobbying for their favorite names.  You would roll your eyes as your aunt pushes for some ridiculous family name for the 300th time.  But deep down your heart is bursting with joy.  These are the moments you had longed for for years.  Every doctor visit, every procedure, every poke, prod, shot, and blood draw was necessary to get you to this point.  You did it.

But that’s not how this morning went, is it?  You laid in bed waiting for your alarm clock.  No need for it, you had been awake for the last hour after another vivid dream of a little one kicking in your belly woke you.  The sunlight peeks around the curtains as you pull the covers over your head.  You’re not ready to face the day, especially not this one.  There’s a deep emotional ache that you can’t seem to get rid of.  The pain is almost palpable that it’s keeping you from falling back asleep so you grab your phone to make a post about your own mother.  You scroll through your newsfeed looking at the pictures of everyone with their moms and their own children, reading the exclamations of love.  You come across a different kind of post, someone excited to announce they’re celebrating this day for a whole new reason this year.  You’re happy for them but immediately click ‘unfollow’, adding them to the list of friends whose pregnancy posts and baby pictures are just too painful.
You pull yourself out of bed to head downstairs for breakfast even though you’re not that hungry.  Sitting on the table are the card and flowers you bought for your mom late last night because even though this day is incredibly hard, you still want your mom to know you love her. You had planned on meeting family for church but are considering cancelling... too many triggers at church like when they hand out the flowers and once again you don’t get one.  In fact, there’s probably a pretty good chance you won’t leave the house at all today.  The past year was full of doctor visits, procedures, pokes, prods, shots, and blood draws and all you have to show for it are scars and a broken heart.

Your feelings of pain and guilt, shame and sadness are valid. They’re real and they are understood.  Not by everyone, but I get it.  And although it feels like you will drown in your tears before you find happiness, know you’re not in this alone.  We are warriors, some of the strongest people will ever know. And tomorrow we’ll pick ourselves up and press forward with the hope that maybe next year this day will be different...